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Western education is going down the toilet

So in a follow-up to my post about how we should stop seeing it as a bad thing to fail, I thought I’d share some observations I’ve had over the years of watching my mother teach children.

I am talking from a perspective of an elementary teacher but I hear that in high school and college, it is no better.

Professors now get threatening emails and are getting muscled into giving kids marks that they don’t bloody deserve.

All of this adds up to a society and culture of half-assed workers who aren’t properly educated and trained, which is why a college degree for me, is a rather useless piece of paper in terms of noting whether you have an education, basic skills and brains or not.

I’ve seen so-called graduates (even MBAs) at clients who can’t even do basic tasks, which is frustrating but also beyond pathetic.



She has had kids come to her and threaten: “I will get my father to sue you and GET YOU FIRED because you didn’t give me an A.”

This is not a joke.

She still remembers this bratty, entitled child who threatened to get her sued because she didn’t give them an A that they didn’t deserve.

Luckily, her father had (slightly) more brains and told her that he couldn’t get her fired because she was a teacher.

Never mind that he didn’t tell her: “You’re a rude, disrespectful BRAT for even having said that to a teacher and I’m going to make sure you never act like out that again, and we are going to go apologize to her TODAY,”, he just indulged in her self-righteous entitlement.

Parents, you are welcome to the monsters you’ve created.

Please don’t be surprised when they grow up to the age of 35 and still expect you to pay for them and let them continue to “find themselves” while living in your house and treating you like servants and walking bank accounts.


I have heard horror stories of parents in college who are still writing essays and doing the work for their kids.

Really? Is this a thing now? Whatever work you hand in, doesn’t have to be yours and you can take ALLLL the credit for it?

Oh wait, that actually does exist in companies now.

At a company I worked with, they had so-called “project managers” who didn’t do JACK SQUAT except run off to Starbucks, sit around listening to their iPod and pretend to respond to emails, yet took ALL OF the credit on behalf of their hardworking, overworked consultants making their disastrous project a semi-success.


Lots of great, greedy, credit-grabbers around us, who don’t do anything and learned at a young age to use people around them to do their work, but then bask in the glow and glory of praise at the end.

This is why when I say things like: But I deserve it. I worked hard for it., I am told indirectly that I should be verbally slapped down and “humbled” because it’s not good to be proud of your accomplishments and achievements.

I was told to give the credit to everyone on the team, even though they didn’t do anything to help me, and that it wasn’t befitting of me to take credit.

Yeah. Guess how long I lasted working for them?


I have seen some abominable essays being submitted by kids.

To make sure I wasn’t being biased because I’m a grown adult who can read and write with ease, I went back to my old essays in school from Grades 2 – 8.

I compared my work from Grade 4 – 8, and realized that I wrote better than they did in Grade 4, than these kids in Grade 8.

Granted, I was a bookworm and a stickler for the language, but … STILL! GRADE 4.

I told my mom: You should fail these kids because they simply have no idea how to write in English. You can’t pass them! How can you say that they know how to write in English and should move on to the next level!?

She said: You can’t fail kids any more. You have to give them a passing grade at the minimum and move them on. Otherwise, you open yourself up to being harassed by parents and possibly being sued.



Spelling is not a requirement any more, and neither is knowing what words actually mean:

  • heel / heal
  • there / they’re / their
  • affect / effect

Basic grammar is out the window. You can now start sentences with “And”, and “Because”, and you don’t need to use capital letters or periods to end sentences.

Even in college, I hear professors are getting papers with smiley face emoticons ” 🙂 ” as part of the essay.

Note: On a blog the rules are quite lax for me, but when I wrote essays I had some SERIOUS rules I followed when I wrote a formal paper. No bending allowed.

You have to let kids “spell in their own way”.

“EDUKASHUN” is now acceptable.

You can’t tell them that they’re wrong either, because they’re not wrong.

They’re different, unique, special snowflakes who deserve coddling and help and need to find their own way.

To top it all off, these kids at age 13, are supposed to know how to write coherent sentences, perhaps not at college-level, but when I see the vocabulary they use, it’s like reading the work of someone in Grade 3 or 4.

It’s pathetic.


If a kid can’t finish their work, you have to give them a passing grade and/or let them hand it in late.

No docking of marks for late hand-ins, no automatic zeroes.

I was still of the last generation that got automatic zeroes and marks taken off for forgetting to write your name on a paper, but apparently that is not allowed now.


NOTE: I am ALL for helping kids with real problems like dyslexia, and who struggle to comprehend basic things because it just doesn’t come easily to them.

I think they really do need help and patience, but there are plenty of kids without learning disorders out there who pretend to have them so they can get help.

A few examples:

  • If a kid can’t read a test even in Grade 8, you have to let them take it home to do it
  • They can also do the test with an open text book and/or with their parents
  • They also need to have accommodation in classes where teachers have to point out answers

You have got to be kidding me.

I remember freaking out before tests because we weren’t allowed open books and people came up with some creative ways to cheat like hiding notes and so on.

Now, you can just ASK to be accommodated and the teacher has to let you do what you want.


You just have to have average intelligence and work hard.

That’s it. You’re “gifted” and a genius now.

Einstein would roll over in his grave if he knew he was being lumped in with these folks.

Knowing how to spell words like “library” makes you a goddamn genius.

Even my mother’s expectations for writing and spelling for the kids, has reached to such a low standard that she crowed when she marked a paper that had only 2 spelling mistakes on basic words.



Parents get really angry if their kids don’t get As.

They come in to parent-teacher interviews and they basically rip you a new one because their precious Billy didn’t get a perfect score which would screw up his chances of getting into a good high school.

Never mind that Billy didn’t deserve anything but a failing grade and my mother was kind enough to pass him through English anyway, but Billy’s chances of the top high school now, are RUINED and it is ALL YOUR FAULT.

Not Billy’s.

No no.. we can’t put any onus on Billy to do any work or their parents to raise standards for their own kids. It’s ALL THE TEACHER’S FAULT.

Is it any wonder that Billy ends up not being able to make it in the real world, struggling and unable to reach his “potential”?

Or worse, he makes it in the real world with heavy subsidization from his parents with their connections and money, and ends up screwing up a department and being a lazy jackass, but is unable to be fired because he’s the esteemed son of so-and-so?


Welcome to the Age of Entitlement.

I’m rather scared to see what will happen in the next 10 – 40 years when these “educated” children enter the workforce without basic skills and education.

(My nephews and nieces included.)


  • Daniel Robert

    The education sector has gone too worse that students are threatening their teachers for not giving them good marks or the parents are working homework for their kids. If this continues the education sector will be destroyed. And no doubt there are some faults in teachers also as they don’t even bother to pay proper attention to the student and they get fail.

  • maz

    Really good post and sadly so true. In France, if you fail your year ( that is if you haven’t reached the level expected ) you cannot go to the next year group, instead you have to retake the whole year. It is “normal” for kids and teenagers to stay in the same class ( say year 3 or 4 for instance ) for 2 or 3 years. Somehow I think it’s good. Sure, when you end up in year 4 age 10 or 11 instead of 9 but at least, you are now at the same level as the rest of the class.
    I live in England and my daughter is in year 3 ( age 7 / 8 yrs old ) and some kids in her class still cannot read or count. Still, those kids will move on to year 4 in September. What’s the logic in that?

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      You can actually fail in France? Wow. That’s a first 🙂 Wish kids would get failing grades here too, because it’s really just giving them false hope.

      That’s the answer I got when I said: But why are they going ahead?

      Response: “They all move ahead because their AGE group is moving ahead, even if the mentally, cannot do the things required of that particular grade. They don’t want to be held back and feel a year or two older than their cohort.”


  • Janine

    It’s horrible. When I taught dance it was the exact same thing, it was always the teachers fault if the kids didn’t get gold medals or whatever so I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for real teachers. It’s ridiculous.

  • Aleksie

    The spelling errors blow my mind when they appear in typed papers. They usually are things spell check would catch. It seems like sheer laziness not to fix the words that were underlined in red. This is at the university level, too.

    I often wonder why people are pressuring their kids to get into the top schools. Some people, for whatever reasons, aren’t going to excel in top-ranked schools. It’s like they want the best of the best without acknowledging whether it makes sens or is practical.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I think you hit on another nail of education problems — that they want the best without knowing if it makes sense, is practical, or really is THE BEST.

      Spelling mistakes drive me insane. For me, every typo should cost you 5 marks so that you NEVER DO IT AGAIN.

  • PK

    Oh, it gets better too (helicoptering has consequences? You don’t say!)

    Hilarious. “They” say when you get married you marry the family, but I guess you hire the family now as well?

  • Tania

    Wow, I’m going to ask my folks and auntie about this (all retired teachers). My dad still advises, on his own time, the science bowl kids for the public school he taught it and they have been kicking butt, beating out the expensive private schools in the cities (kids of all the urban professionals). I know they work really hard studying and practicing to compete and I wonder if those good habits are beating those that have been coddled a bit more.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      You should definitely be asking your retired teachers about this, because this is a problem that I’ve observed over the years that has gotten worse since my time.

      I hear stories about brats almost every day now.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    This is all right on the mark info, and isn’t it sad??? If I had made that remark to your mom (which I wouldn’t have, b/c my dad would’ve kicked my tail), my dad would’ve walked me right down there to apologize, and then kicked my tail!! It’s frustrating to me that really good teachers can’t be good teachers b/c of the political correctness garbage. And this is one of the big reasons we homeschool: we can make sure our kids don’t get away with any of this behavior, provide them a great education, and not have their education hindered by the entitled children. I honestly don’t know how teachers like your mom deal with it every day – it’s just not fair to them. Thanks for a great post.

  • Elle

    In elementary and middle school it’s really tough to fail kids. My sister is a math teacher and in her district you have to write a full assessment of why the kid failed and schedule multiple meetings (in addition to the required parent-teacher conferences). From there the child goes to 6 weeks of summer school to learn a full year of work and is passed. She says it’s a pointless endeavor. In regards to being classified as gifted or special needs, I find that schools and parents manipulate the system and give children these classifications in order to get federal funding or to allow the student extra assistance.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      A lot of teachers just don’t bother doing it because it’s too much work to explain why they failed, other than giving the obvious reasons:

      1. Didn’t work hard
      2. Didn’t care about work

      It IS pointless, and it’s sick that the child in the end is the victim of such manipulations.

  • Miss Amanda

    OMG YES!

    I remember back in high school, my boyfriend’s mother did ALL of his sister’s work for her. All of it. It made me crazy but no one in the family cared at all.

    I only teach kids acting classes a few weeks in the summer, and then once-a-week, after school type things throughout the year, but I’ve had to deal with a lot of bratty kids and brattier parents. And this extra-curricular stuff they sign up for on their own – this is why I could NEVER be a teacher in schools!

    When I was in University, I worked in the Academic Support offices and had to deal with a few students that were shocked to have failed something. Thankfully I was the subordinate, and my manager had to deal with all the flack – I was there to tutor them and get them back on track only. But the stories I heard!!

  • Bridget

    Working at a university, I see this first hand and it’s pretty ugly… but we DO fail kids. We have to. You can’t let someone become a doctor or an engineer just because they “tried their best”.

    The worst of it though is their not prepared for failure, so these kids have a complete breakdown over a bad grade. There’s no, “oh I really messed that up, I have to try harder in this class”, they literally become paralyzed over something as minor as doing poorly on a lab quiz.

    And YES the parents call. It’s awful. I haven’t been threatened to be sued yet, but I imagine that’s coming.

  • Cassie

    “Lots of great, greedy, credit-grabbers around us, who don’t do anything and learned at a young age to use people around them to do their work, but then bask in the glow and glory of praise at the end.”

    I’ve run into this one as well, it’s extremely common in white collar professions. Part of me wonders if we (socially) look down at those who pursue making more money because we’ve seen so many people who don’t deserve it (like in your example) end up with it.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I’d agree with that statement about seeing that in white collar professions, although I am biased as I’ve only worked in white collar professions as a career. In school I worked at fast food joints but it wasn’t a career.

      Is it too much to ask for fairness?

  • Michelle

    I’ve definitely noticed that education and kids seem to be getting worse. The drop out rate at the high school and district I went to was around 25%, which is crazy especially since my district was considered a “good” district to attend.

  • cj

    It is not down the toilet, it IS in the toilet. I endured 7 years of elementary music teaching and escaped to open my own guitar studio in 2005.

    Placing the responsibility squarely back on the shoulders of the parents and students is key. Most teachers do a reasonably good job teaching when they are given a chance, but they are weighed down by data, testing, regulations, and brats and their idiot parents, so their jobs are damn near impossible.

    There is simply no way around hard work and effort as hard as society may try.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I was trying to be nice, but if you want to twist my rubber arm, I’d wholly agree.

      My generation didn’t escape being in the toilet, either. I am surprised at the people in my siblings’ and my generations who are just… horrendous at working hard.

      All the responsibility for me, has to be shared between parents, teachers and children.

      The teachers are there to do their best (and most do, but not all, as I can attest to), but ultimately, it’s the kid that has to learn it, and their parents should have a lot more of a stake or a say in how they do than they do these days.

      Everyone thinks a kid that tests badly doesn’t exist. They can’t imagine that a child could fail a subject, because.. well to them, EVERYONE is smart.

      The key we’re missing is as you said — hard work.

  • CorianneM

    Oh, that does sound scary. I read things about this before, but this looks really bad. I don’t want to think about how these kids will turn out in 10-40 years, and I really feel sorry for the teachers.

  • MelD

    Hear hear.
    This is really shocking stuff. Even though it’s nothing like as bad here (as I mentioned in a previous comment), it will – like everything else, sadly – eventually reach us.
    Whatever happened to plain common sense?!

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Common sense isn’t so common, I’m afraid.

      I was in Portugal a few years back and when I saw their schooling system, it wasn’t great either. I don’t know what it’s like elsewhere but I heard from BF that France is very good, and I know that in SOME parts of Asia, it’s very good, although limited to just Math/Science.

      We have an edge on creative arts like writing and so on here, which helps imagination and ingenuity, but it isn’t enough when we don’t teach kids a basic standard of respect and a basic set of organizational skills including self-discipline.

      • MelD

        Education systems all over are going downhill, be that in the UK, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia… you’ll hear the same complaints from everyone, though they are all at different points on the scale because the systems are all different. Finland has the best reputation. I do think they are probably better in Europe than in North America in many ways, though – I know a lot of Swiss working abroad return here for their kids’ education, even though it is difficult to get our qualifications recognised elsewhere (e.g. vocational vs. academic), but at least the kids get solid preparation for life.
        There must be a happy medium somewhere, where both teachers and parents have a fair say – but of course, that would be assuming the parents had some sense, too!

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